I hate GetGlue, even though I have an account. And I don’t use my GoodReads account except to keep track of books I want to read when I don’t have my little notebook handy.

Why? Why do I dislike these two wildly popular social networks?

Because they promote doing nothing so you can tell people about it.

GoodReads lets you tell your friends “I read a book today.” You at least accomplished something. You expanded your mind, added to your knowledge, and helped yourself to achieve more, or at least become a better person (assuming you weren’t reading 50 Shades of Grey).

Get Glue is all about watching TV, and telling your friends what you’re watching. You’re sending the message, “Hey everyone, I sat around and did nothing constructive for the last 60 to 90 minutes!”

And don’t even get me started on the Candy Crush updates on Facebook.

None of these things help your brand

While I appreciate hearing about some of the books people are reading — mind-expanding literature, escapist sci-fi, skill building nonfiction — I’m not that excited by it either. Some people aren’t interested in watching other people play sports, I’m not interested in hearing about people reading.

But it beats TV, because TV is passive. You don’t engage, you don’t create, you don’t do anything. While I love watching TV, I’m embarrassed to admit when I just spent two hours camped out in front of the tube. I feel like I should be working on something important, not wondering whether Castle and Beckett’s relationship will survive.

(And yes, I know there are educational and emotionally-fulfilling programs, usually on PBS. But back-to-back episodes of Real Housewives, Say Yes to the Dress, or Project Runway make me despair for humanity and only seek to strengthen my argument.)

But what about the things you do? The things you accomplish? The stuff that takes some real effort and work on your part? That’s the really interesting stuff people want to hear about. These are the things that promote your brand, because they show that you have interesting hobbies, and do cool stuff.

These are the things that promote your brand, because people will like, retweet, and share the things you’ve done.

Here’s a good example: last week, I built a small table out of scrap lumber in my garage (woodworking is one of my hobbies, so I always have scrap lumber around). It wasn’t anything great, but it was a nice little table to use as a writing desk on pleasant nights.

I uploaded a photo of it to Facebook and within 24 hours, it had more than 80 likes on Facebook.

That may not seem like a lot, but since I’m not a big Facebook user, that’s been one of the most liked things I’ve done all year.

Meanwhile, photos of places I’ve been get 20 likes if it was somewhere cool. Photos of my kids playing guitar get 30 and more. My GoodReads updates may get one or two.

But a picture of something I built with my own hands? Eighty likes in 24 hours.

It’s not because I’m a master craftsman, or because it was a good photo (it wasn’t; it was a little grainy). It’s because I did something real, something that shows tangible results, something that was actually worthwhile and useful. It promoted my brand by showing I had a different side to my personality, and because more people shared and liked it than have ever before.

Watching TV isn’t useful. Reading books is only useful to the reader. But to actually do something useful is a good way to remind people they can do useful things, and it shows that you’re able to do interesting and useful things too.

So stop telling everyone what you’re watching on TV or reading in bed. Focus on doing the cool stuff and promoting that. Keep your Scandal viewing habits your dirty little secret.


Professional Blog ServiceBranding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. His third book, The Owned Media Doctrine, will be available this summer.